Team registration is open for the eighth annual Plane Pull Competition and Festival benefiting children’s services at The Arc Baton Rouge.
The family-friendly event from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24, at Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport invites businesses, organizations, athletic teams and others to come together in teams of 25 to see who can clock the fastest time in pulling a FedEx 757 aircraft, which weighs 147,000 pounds, a distance of 12 feet.
The Arc is launching a campaign, “Maybe Your Baby,” to inform and educate about the benefits of immediate intervention for babies diagnosed with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other similar conditions that delay typical development, Arc Executive Director Barry Meyer said.
“Engaging our 10-person team of speech, physical and occupational therapists, special educational instructors and social workers, this system of services has proven to bring life-changing outcomes for children and families supported by our community-based program,” Meyer said.
Rising costs associated with delivering the services and insufficient reimbursement by government programs are causing great concerns about the future of the program.
“We serve these babies in their own natural environment, as soon as they’re diagnosed and teach their families and caregivers how to continue the progression of care,” Meyer said.
In The Arc’s seven-parish area — East and West Baton Rouge, East and West Feliciana, Ascension, Iberville and Pointe Coupee — 180 children from birth to age 3 received early intervention services through the program in 2014. Nine children and their families were served in West Feliciana, four children in both East Feliciana and Pointe Coupee and 137 in East Baton Rouge, including the Baker and Zachary communities.
“Most of the babies and families we support are in the low-income range, many living in remote or rural areas, and they have extreme need for our immediate help,” Meyer said.
The Arc’s team provides services and support in the child’s own environment, which may include their own home, a day care center, Early Head Start facility or other community setting.
“Outcomes are all positive, as the majority of the children successfully move on to regular school programs by the age of 3,” Meyer said.
“The ‘Maybe Your Baby’ campaign is meant to help connect the dots between the excitement and frenzy of the Plane Pull event and the hundreds of babies and families we can continue to impact once we know there’s sustainable funding,” said Susanne Romig, director of Community Relations and Development for The Arc.
“We all know someone whose life has been touched by a child or adult with developmental challenges, and we all want to know we can help. Here’s how — come pull a plane, sign up a team or make a sponsorship pledge or in-kind donation. Everyone can help, and the event is a lot of fun,” Romig said.
Sponsorship opportunities start at $5,000 and team participation is $50 per person or $1,250 for a full team of 25, which includes festival T-shirts and complimentary lunch for each person.
Other highlights of the event include Louisiana state troopers’ aircraft exhibit, music, classic cars and motorcycles, homemade jambalaya and refreshments, a children’s village, games and crafts, face painting, a rock-climbing wall and more. Admission is free, and volunteers are encouraged.